Worship Together

http://resources.razorplanet.com/510188-2746/510188_280_656928.jpgI was invited to lunch by a man in my church. He had something on his mind concerning our worship services that he wanted to talk to me about. We set a time and place. I could hardly wait to get with him because these lunches are always such fun for worship leaders. (Can you hear my sarcastic tone of voice?)

Anyway, as it turns out, this one went pretty well. I’ve had worse. Plus, he paid. But there was something about our worship services that he was asking me to change. Every week, sometime during the service, I would welcome people and ask them to get acquainted with the people around them. To introduce themselves if there was someone they didn’t know. This item appeared on my service plan as “Meet & Greet.”

Creative, right?

He wanted me to stop doing it.

What I found interesting was his reason. It seems he loved the flow of our worship time. He explained to me how the music would lead him to worship. He could let the world slip away and feel truly intimate with God. But just when he was feeling close to God he would be interrupted by all the people around him meeting and greeting. It was a real distraction to his worship.

This conversation occurred many years ago. Since then we have, for many other reasons, discontinued the “Meet & Greet” time. But there is a part of me that would like to bring it back. I understand that it’s one of the most uncomfortable moments during a service for guests. I’m not excited about infecting everyone during cold and flu season. I recognize that it feels artificial and forced.

But I thought of it as a symbolic ritual of something I believe is very important to the corporate worship experience of the church. Something I believe the man who took me to lunch completely missed.

It’s this: Worship isn’t just vertical. It’s also horizontal.

Corporate worship specifically is about the body of Christ coming together to express our unity in worship. You can have your “just-Jesus-and-me” times any time and place you and he agree on. But something different happens when we worship together.

Last Sunday we were singing one of my favorite new songs. As we were singing, Kathie nudged me and pointed out a man across the aisle. This guy had a stroke just a couple weeks before and had been in pretty bad shape. But he has experienced a remarkable recovery and was standing there in the congregation singing his praises. I made my way over to him, put my arm around him in sort of “man hug” and told him how happy I was to see him here. He agreed. He was happy to be here as well. Really happy! This happened as we were singing, “This is your family, Stretching as far as I can see. I’m right where I’m meant to be once again…”

I love that song!

This small interaction was most assuredly not an interruption to my worship. In fact, it was probably the most worshipful thing I did during the whole service.

What glorifies God more than his followers loving one another?

I’ll answer that one for you: nothing.

We definitely need our private times of worship. Do it daily, hourly, every moment of every day. But not when you’re together with the rest of the church. It’s not private there, it’s corporate.

If your worship is only for your benefit, I have to ask: who are you really worshiping?

I’m not really campaigning to bring back the “Meet & Greet” time. It needed to go away.

But not because it interrupts my worship.

Lloyd

 

 

 

Luke 19:41-44

The idea of these little devotionals is simple. I want to approach scripture with the understanding that God is speaking. I’m reading through the Bible and listening for God to ask me questions. I expect these questions to be fairly open-ended and plan to carry them in my mind throughout the day. I’ll share these questions with you in the hope that you find them challenging and helpful.

Luke 19:41-44
41 And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, 42 saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side 44 and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”

From this passage I hear God asking me:
What do you think made Jesus weep?
Who do you think he weeps over today?
Maybe you?
Well, let me ask you this…
Jesus said they “did not know the time of their visitation.”
In other words, they didn’t know that he was me.
My question is: would you have known?
Seriously. Do you think you would?
It’s easy to look back now and see how it all makes sense, but if you were then…if you walked around with him…ate with him…would you really recognize him for who he was?
Remember, he was a man. He ate, drank, defecated, blew his nose, and had body odor. You talked to him face to face. Touched him. Just like any one of your friends today.
Would you really believe your human friend if he claimed to be God?
Now, who do you think he weeps over today?


Is God asking you anything more, or anything different?
I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.


Tuesday Picks ~ 5-23-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well..

Beware the Graduation SpeechKevin DeYoung
lightstock_70824_medium_tgcIf you are graduation this spring, I hope you enjoy all the festivities and have a great time with family and friends.

Just don’t believe everything you hear in the graduation speech.

The truth is: you can’t do anything you set your mind to. You can’t be whatever you want to be. You aren’t the last, best hope for planet earth. You shouldn’t always follow your dreams. You shouldn’t always believe in yourself. And you shouldn’t expect life’s most meaningful gifts to come through unchecked self expression.


Facts are not the antidote for doubt Seth Godin
http://www.sethgodin.com/sg/images/og.jpg
Drink enough water and you will cease to be thirsty.

And yet, a doubting person can be drowning in facts, but facts won’t change a mind that doesn’t want to be changed. More facts don’t counter more doubt. Someone who is shaking his head, arms folded, eyes squinted and ears closed isn’t going to be swayed by more facts.

Instead, doubt surrenders to experience. And experience can only happen if there’s enrollment…

Doubt comes from fear, which is why it’s so difficult to earn enrollment…


Three Ways to Exhort the AgingR. Paul Stevens
https://tgc-cache.s3.amazonaws.com/images/remote/http_s3.amazonaws.com/tgc-ee2/articles/how-to-encourage-elderly-1.jpgThe challenges of later life are similar to midlife but ramped up a notch. Aging people are challenged by the surrounding youth culture. Rapid changes, especially in technology and the internet, leave them behind. Their mobility and energy are reduced. Formalized and institutionalized retirement sets people up for a season of continuous leisure and sloth. This leads to profound challenges to self-worth, as people are no longer identified by their career.

Aging people experience progressive losses: parents, friends, colleagues, career, driver’s license, and perfect health. Then life-threatening health challenges are encountered, usually heart disease or cancer. And finally, there is the certainty of death.

In these realities, though, there are implicit spiritual incentives to grow. Here are three ways to encourage and exhort the aging…

…Aging is not the progressive loss of humanity. It is the reverse. It should make us more human and not less. Like all spiritual growth, we must cooperate with the God who loves us and seeks to humanize us. And this involves battling the vices of aging and nurturing the virtues of late life.


R2D22…
Off the Mark

Luke 19:28-40

The idea of these little devotionals is simple. I want to approach scripture with the understanding that God is speaking. I’m reading through the Bible and listening for God to ask me questions. I expect these questions to be fairly open-ended and plan to carry them in my mind throughout the day. I’ll share these questions with you in the hope that you find them challenging and helpful.

Luke 19:28-40
28 And when he had said these things, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. 29 When he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, he sent two of the disciples, 30 saying, “Go into the village in front of you, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat. Untie it and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say this: ‘The Lord has need of it.’” 32 So those who were sent went away and found it just as he had told them. 33 And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying the colt?” 34 And they said, “The Lord has need of it.” 35 And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. 36 And as he rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road. 37 As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, 38 saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” 39 And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” 40 He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Have you ever been rebuked for inappropriate worship?
Have you ever rebuked anyone for inappropriate worship?
If it’s worship of Jesus, can it ever be inappropriate?
I mean, if the rocks do it, it can’t be that complicated.


Is God asking you anything more, or anything different?
I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.


Monday Picks ~ 5-22-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well..

The Beautiful, Necessary Distraction Of Corporate Worship David Santistevan
THE BEAUTIFUL, NECESSARYWe are misfits from many walks of life gathered under ONE NAME. We are sinners who’ve screwed up our lives, gathered under ONE CROSS where there is mercy. We are orphans embraced under ONE FATHER, now called sons and daughters.

We are the large, we are the small. We are the rich, we are the poor. We are the smart, we are the uneducated. We are the talented, we are the glossed over. We are the brilliant, we are the broken. We are the church.

And we need your voice in the corporate gathering. And you need that beautiful distraction in your life. It’s a fairy tale to only listen to Bethel records in the comfort of your home. Whether you like the songs or enjoy your band or not, you need Church. And the Church needs you…

Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with closing your eyes and focusing on Jesus. No one will punish you for such an action. But corporate worship isn’t just about you and Jesus. You and Jesus can have devotions every day. Corporate worship is about being the Church.


Gotta Trust SomebodySamuel James
https://blogs.mereorthodoxy.com/samuel/wp-content/uploads/sites/6/2017/05/7731975344_48d9130ce5_b.jpgTo make suspicion and distrust toward established, respected, and accountable sources of information your default orientation is to either put yourself at the mercy of other sources of information–which are probably just as biased and ideological as the sources you eschew, but biased in a direction you’re more OK with–or, even worse, it’s to make intuition and assumption your primary means of knowledge…

You’ve gotta trust somebody. Free market economics are far from perfect, but one thing to admire about the way America works is that even biased, slanted, ideological news outlets have to compete against each other for public trust, have to keep each other accountable, and have to abide by certain norms and incentives. To dismiss an entire arm of intellectual credentialism is to lose a lot of faith in the free market, really quickly. You’ve gotta trust somebody, and it can’t just be you.


This is a two part post from several years ago. It’s worth remembering…

Nobody Cares About Your Church (part one)Danny Franks
…it was in the middle of that discussion that I was hit with the cold, hard reality: nobody cares about our church

It’s not that they don’t care because they want to see the demise of your church.  In all likelihood, they don’t wish you any harm.  They don’t care because it’s just not on their radar.  The typical unchurched person in your community doesn’t scan the religious section on Saturday to see what’s going on at Second Baptist.  (“Look Martha! A Wild Game Dinner!  We gotta get in on that…”)

So what makes somebody care about your church?  That answer’s coming up in the next post.

Nobody Cares About Your Church (part two)Danny Franks
…most people who will attend your church will do so not because of a flyer, a marquee, or a newspaper ad.  They’ll do it because of relationship.  They’ll do it because a member of your church lent a hand, gave some money, bought some groceries, spoke a kind word, or personally shared the gospel.

And because they trust your people, they might try your church.

The people in your church are the best commercial for your church.  …[They] live what they believe in the community.  They serve without expectation of return.  They give generously when they know of a need.  They seek to bless others without an agenda.


Thirst Editions…
https://wronghands1.files.wordpress.com/2017/05/thirst-editions.jpg
Wrong Hands – Click image for a larger view.

Luke 19:11-27

The idea of these little devotionals is simple. I want to approach scripture with the understanding that God is speaking. I’m reading through the Bible and listening for God to ask me questions. I expect these questions to be fairly open-ended and plan to carry them in my mind throughout the day. I’ll share these questions with you in the hope that you find them challenging and helpful.

Luke 19:11-27
11 As they heard these things, he proceeded to tell a parable, because he was near to Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately. 12 He said therefore, “A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return. 13 Calling ten of his servants,[a] he gave them ten minas,[b] and said to them, ‘Engage in business until I come.’ 14 But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us.’ 15 When he returned, having received the kingdom, he ordered these servants to whom he had given the money to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by doing business. 16 The first came before him, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made ten minas more.’ 17 And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant![c] Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.’ 18 And the second came, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made five minas.’ 19 And he said to him, ‘And you are to be over five cities.’ 20 Then another came, saying, ‘Lord, here is your mina, which I kept laid away in a handkerchief; 21 for I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man. You take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’ 22 He said to him, ‘I will condemn you with your own words, you wicked servant! You knew that I was a severe man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? 23 Why then did you not put my money in the bank, and at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’ 24 And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the mina from him, and give it to the one who has the ten minas.’ 25 And they said to him, ‘Lord, he has ten minas!’ 26 ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 27 But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me.’”

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Who do you identify with in this parable?
-One of the first two servants?
-The third servant?
-One of his citizens (enemies) who didn’t want him to reign?
Does this remind you of another parable? (See Matthew 25:14-30)
How are they similar? How are they different?
Did you notice that the audience is different?
The talents parable was told to just Jesus’ disciples, whereas the minas version was told to the whole crowd.
How does this affect the message(s) of the parable?
Does this passage alter your perception of Jesus?
In what way?


Is God asking you anything more, or anything different?
I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.


Worship Transfer

https://userdefinedforlife.files.wordpress.com/2010/09/cross-kneel.jpg

“A sinful act involves worship of the wrong kind,
submitting ourselves at that moment to serve
the appetites of our pride or lust,
and so repentance is literally a transfer of our worship
back to the One who rightfully owns it…
Worship has been misunderstood as something that arises
from a feeling which ‘comes upon you,’
but it is vital that we understand that it is rooted
in a conscious act of the will, to serve and obey the Lord Jesus Christ.
The feelings, the joy of having been forgiven,
follow on as a consequence of our reunion with him.”

Graham Kendrick, Worship

Weekend Picks ~ 5-19-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

The Death of ExpertiseKevin DeYoung
…the problem is not that people are dumber than human beings used to be. We have more information than ever before. The problem is that we are more confident in our abilities and less willing to learn than previous generations—a lethal combination of militant arrogance and invincible ignorance. American colleges and universities have produced students who are undereducated and overly praised (77). We’ve mistaken critical thinking for relentless criticism. Which means we don’t engage with others “as iron sharpens iron,” but as an axe fells a tree. Public policy debates have devolved into shouting matches between equally uninformed persons duking it out with exchanges of contradiction, random factoids, and shaky sources (40). Too many online debates traffic in confirmation bias and conspiracy theories that are by definition nonfalsifiable. And when we aren’t pronouncing all the experts wrong, we are certain that anyone can be right. If the Declaration of Independence announced these truths to be self-evident, we now believe all truths are self-evident (x). Who needs experts when everything is obvious?


It’s sad to me that we’ve forgotten how to have a sense of humor without taking sides…

Jimmy Fallon Was on Top of the World. Then Came Trump. Dave Itzkoff
He is weathering the most tumultuous period in his tenure there — a predicament for which he has himself to thank, and one that raises the question of whether the multitalented but apolitical Mr. Fallon can ride out the current era of politicized, choose-your-side entertainment, when he just wants to have a good time…

As strongly as ever, Mr. Fallon believes it should be a place for a wide swath of viewers to get their entertainment and laughs, and that this philosophy will steer it through a period of intense polarization.

“I don’t want to be bullied into not being me, and not doing what I think is funny,” he said more defiantly. “Just because some people bash me on Twitter, it’s not going to change my humor or my show.”


I love this!

Comfortably HumanJohn Frye
Screen Shot 2016-10-15 at 9.10.12 AMThe invitation to the morning meal reminds the disciples that it’s just fine to be human as they know it, even as they try to shake away the memories of their cowardly behavior at Jesus’ arrest. What can they say? What can they do? How will they impress Jesus? They are in the presence of someone who rose from the dead! They can’t top that. They dare not speak. Jesus does. “Let’s eat!” A plain old human thing to do. Jesus could have said, “Foolish creeps, you abandoned me, let’s do a serious Bible study. Now!”

I wonder if Jesus is impressed with the ways we try, and try hard, to experience newness. Is Jesus   slightly annoyed by our earnest attempts to be “spiritual,” whatever that means? We want to tell Jesus all about what we learned in the Word and Jesus wants to know how we like the fish…

The best word that comes to my mind about being spiritual is this: relax. We give the lie to all we say about God’s unconditional love the moment we try to be something we are not. Over the years I’ve met too many hyperactive Christians trying their hardest to assure God (and all who watch them) how special they are. God’s deep, unceasing love for them is missed or misappropriated in their frantic pursuit to be holy. The underlying error in their thinking seems to be that “holy” and “human” are adversarial.


Don’t Hide Those Gray HairsCandice Watters
A multibillion dollar beauty industry keeps the charade going, all the while showing little-to-no respect for the elderly.

When it comes to getting older, our culture offers three options: delay, disguise, or despise.

Don’t Delay – Embrace

Don’t Disguise – Teach

Don’t Despise – Flourish


Re-accommodation…
http://assets.amuniversal.com/7297d28010c20135a223005056a9545d
Dilbert – Click image for a larger view.

Luke 19:1-10

The idea of these little devotionals is simple. I want to approach scripture with the understanding that God is speaking. I’m reading through the Bible and listening for God to ask me questions. I expect these questions to be fairly open-ended and plan to carry them in my mind throughout the day. I’ll share these questions with you in the hope that you find them challenging and helpful.

Luke 19:1-10
He entered Jericho and was passing through. And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

From this passage I hear God asking me:
You can’t hear his name without singing his song in your head, can you?
Go ahead. I’ll wait.
Do you notice anything important here that the song leaves out?
It’s not just a story about a small person noticed by Jesus.
It’s more a story about a hated person loved and forgiven by Jesus.
Did you notice what Jesus said he came to do?
Is this what you do?
Do you seek the lost?
Do you even have a meaningful relationship with a lost person?
Do you really believe they are lost?
Do you think maybe you should do more seeking?


Is God asking you anything more, or anything different?
I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.